Dealing with dynamic change

The twists and turns of change have been making themselves felt quite dramatically across both public and commercial landscapes lately.

‘Expect 70% of the Fortune 500 to be disrupted’, AOL’s Global Head of Innovation, Jonathan Oliver, has said.

The message he was delivering at the Marketing Innovation Summit in Singapore this week was, bluntly, ‘Innovate or die’.

We can perhaps consider Volkswagen’s current plight as highlighting the broken nature of the industrial business model, a sad tale in which decades of brand value and consumer trust have unravelled.

VW is an example of an industrialised business in an increasingly pressurised competitive environment with eroding margins, attempting to satisfy investor expectations at a time when digital business thinking is redesigning everything.

The taking of short-cuts is perhaps the symptom underlying this deeper cause – how challenging it is becoming to real deliver value against outmoded notions of industrial ROI.

Diminishing margins are perhaps part of the root cause as to why questionable decisions were taken at VW, now undermining this once blue-chip brand.

Escher spirals colour 1

Image by Escher

Whether it’s irregularities around recording emissions or exchange rates, from the motor industry to finance, the systemic weaknesses of industrial-model businesses in a digital world are becoming evident.

In one area of economic activity that we work with at Visceral Business, the housing sector, a recent reclassification of social housing as public debt by the ONS in the UK will fundamentally reposition the core purpose of the organisations in this space.

There’s an increasing recognition, as Halton Housing’s CEO Nick Atkin has argued, that to survive they must radically remodel their businesses.

For any organisation in any market space, being faced with the raw new business dynamism of a digital start-up means having to reframe the essential nature of how business gets done. In travel and leisure, Uber and Airbnb have transformed customer definitions of on-demand choice and service.

Take all these situations into account and it becomes clear organisations today are not just dealing with digital transformation, they’re dealing with dynamic change.

A transformation tsunami is sweeping across everything from advertising and automotive to utility provision and energy supply.

Consider the implications of Elon Musk’s plans for battery-powered energy or the blockchain and it becomes obvious holding onto outmoded ways of creating business capital and social value is becoming the C-Suite level’s biggest liability.

Dealing with dynamic chang

Dealing with dynamic change is something over and above adding digital infrastructure to an existing industrial business model.

It asks for the discovery and development of rigorous, blue sky, out-of-the box thinking; management that has to have an appetite to completely redraw, if necessary, what a business looks like, even by redefining the boundaries of innovation.

The fundamentals of what we call ‘business organisation’ are undergoing a seismic shift.

How we organise in the future will be based on artificial as well as human intelligence. There is a need to embrace datalogic.

Tomorrow’s leaders know that networked smarts beat gant charts.

Resilience in the face of such change may only make the idea of business-as-usual more fragile.

When Visceral Business came to life over nine years ago, it did so to help businesses grapple with the challenge of dealing with dynamic change. The model of corporate development we use develops digital business strategy, data, skills and capabilities to help organisations streamline and perform as distributed and connected networks.

VB Model final

We see the DNA of digital business as being networked, seamless, open, compelling and having a purpose beyond profit.

Brain with DNA cells

This model employs collective networked interactivity and intelligence as a central nervous system so we can create a readiness to handle dynamic change. The aim is to develop action potential through participatory engagement and by using interoperable data.

The radical conceptualism of dynamic change creates what we might call an ‘organisational biologic’ as expressed in data flows. This is a new kind of management strategy.

Accepting that change is necessary is one step, but we know from how hard change is that acting on that acceptance is something else entirely. The key is to step outside the confines of conventional thinking.

To connect and respond rapidly to changing market forces, dynamic change asks for a tight operational synthesis using people and technology, connected as networks, with the rigour of digital business thinking behind it to promote reinvention.

This is vital. It’s the means by which organisations can function responsively, developing patterns of success, helping them as organisations to become the digitally-enabled businesses of tomorrow.

In turbulent times, organisations need to know what’s working more than ever, to develop acute insight through the way they harness digital technology, by making it a fully functioning muscular core for the business, operationally and culturally.

For any organisation re-evaluating its purpose in changing conditions, the opportunities to scale are there, and digital intelligence, data and the power of networks can propel them further.

For organisations looking to unlock such sustainable business futures, there’s no doubt we’re talking about going beyond putting digital first.

Dynamic change is on the menu.

Header Image by Piero Fissore